Yossi Abuksis 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
There are numerous scenarios in which the battle against relegation from the Premier League could be decided on Saturday night.
However, for Bnei Yehuda, the aim is quite simple.
A victory over Ashdod SC at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday night and the club from Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood will be guaranteed a 13th consecutive season in the Premier League, consequently relegating both Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
However, with all three teams entering their final match of the season tied on 30 points, there could be one final twist in the fight against demotion to the National League should Bnei Yehuda fail to win.
Bnei Yehuda currently sits just above the relegation zone in the much sought after 12th position by virtue of its superior goal difference.
Bnei Yehuda (-13) holds a six goal advantage over Petah Tikva (-19), with Ramat Hasharon (-31) far adrift.
Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Haifa on Saturday while Ramat Hasharon visits Hapoel Acre.
Only Bnei Yehuda has its fate in its own hands (assuming Petah Tikva doesn’t record an improbable victory by at least seven goals), but despite Ashdod’s 5-0 humbling at the hands of Petah Tikva last week, coach Yossi Abuksis is taking nothing for granted.
“I’m not sure I can explain the pressure I’m currently feeling,” said Abuksis, with Bnei Yehuda playing in the top flight in 29 of the past 30 seasons. “An entire season is on the line. One bad pass can end in disaster. If we want to stay up we have to win this match. The future of the club is in jeopardy.”
Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s State Cup triumph on Wednesday injected some much-needed interest into the top half of the standings as a fourth-place finish will now be sufficient for Europa League qualification.
Kiryat Shmona beat Maccabi Netanya of the National League 1-0 after extra time to claim the cup for the first time in club history.
Hapoel Tel Aviv (52 points) currently occupies fourth place, but Maccabi Haifa (48) and Bnei Sakhnin (47) are still hoping to close the gap, with the top six teams having three more matches to play.
The top teams will also be in action on Tuesday and Wednesday before ending their campaigns next weekend.
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts second-place Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday while Sakhnin welcomes Haifa.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will receive the championship shield and officially celebrate its second straight championship when it hosts Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield on Sunday.
Also Saturday, Beitar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Ra’anana.